Countdown to Christmas

Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat,

Please put a penny

In the old man’s hat.

Next Sunday Christmas is upon us and 2016 will be nearing an end. How surreal is that! It seems like yesterday I was popping a cork to welcome in this year and now I am preparing myself to let it go.

What a tumultuous year it has been.

But Christmas is coming and, despite not a fattening goose in sight, it promises to be a good one for me. Our small family will have an early Christmas lunch by the beach. I’m secretly pleased we are dining out and I won’t have to cook or clean up. The time will be better spent playing with my grandson, who will no doubt run rings around me. He is one. On Christmas day, friends from interstate arrive and we have decided platters of cold meats, cheeses, olives, etc are the best plan for grazing through the day. Keep it simple and enjoy – my motto for any festivity. There will be plenty of food, plenty of drink, plenty of conversation and jokes and goodwill.

We are lucky.

Our family might be small, but we love and care for each other. Even though we are spread across the country, we regularly stay in touch. Thank goodness for social media which makes short messages and photos so much easier to send to each other. And, although we mostly message each other, we also talk to each other via phone or Skype.

I am fortunate to have awesome friends who are also spread across the country. But, despite geographical challenges, we make a point of keeping in touch one way or another. We share our lives and lend our support when needs be.

However, especially at this time of year, I am reminded of those who don’t have families, or whose families are torn apart. I think of those who are friendless and lonely. Those who don’t have food, or drink, or even a home in which to live, let alone spend Christmas. The sick, the elderly, the frail, the homeless, the outcasts, the victims of violence, the refugees; spare a thought for them. Even better, spare a penny or two. Those of us who can afford to pile our Christmas tables with food, should be able to donate enough pennies to the charity of our choice, to feed at least one person.

If you haven’t got a penny,

A ha’penny will do.

Whatever you can afford to give this holiday season, be it a thousand dollars or only one, please give it to someone who is in need. It isn’t too late. It is never too late to share some goodwill.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny,

Then God bless you.

And if you are struggling in any way this Christmas, my heart goes out to you. It isn’t much to offer but Fra Giovanni’s Christmas Prayer has always been my favourite through difficult times:

I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present moment. Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take Joy!

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Alex

Alex de Fircks is a writer of memoir and short fiction. She blogs about family, moments in time, memories and travel. Alex is passionate about history, genealogy and family stories.

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